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Posts Tagged ‘common criminal’

An hour and a half before sunrise the women found the spices and death dressings they had made for the Body and quietly slipped outside. As they gathered few words were used although silent embraces spoke of the pain and grief each one felt.  The past few days were a blur of confusion.  Just days before He had entered town to such fanfare and adoration – “Hosanna!  Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.”  They had thought that perhaps this was the time He would be proclaimed as king.  The miracles that they had seen with their own eyes… even unto to some of them, was surely a testament to God’s great power that was with Him.  And yet today they were going to dress His body for the final time and His tomb would be sealed… forever.

Someone broke the silent contemplation with a very practical question.  “Who will roll away the stone?”  They had been there as Joseph and Nicodemus hastily prepared His body on the eve of the Sabbath.  The large stone weighing 2 tons or more was rolled down over the opening just before they left.  “Perhaps the guards will help us.” another said.  Word had gotten to His followers that a Roman guard had been posted at the tomb.  There would be four soldiers when they arrived.  They all remembered the centurion who was stationed at the cross when He had died.  He knew He was not a common criminal, but a righteous man.  He showed kindness toward the family.  “Perhaps…”

As they neared the tomb, the ground shook violently for a few moments.  On top of the grief, now they had a new terror seize them.  But as quickly as it came, it subsided.  They picked themselves up and now hurried to the tomb.  When they arrived the guards – seasoned, battle-hardened warriors, were on the ground looking as though they had seen a ghost.  The women’s attention did not remain on the guards, but rather jumped to the tomb.  The stone was gone and the tomb was OPEN.  What has happened?  When they looked inside they could see the clothes and spices used to wrap the Body, but the BODY WAS GONE.

“Do not be afraid.”  They looked and a man dressed in a white robe was sitting inside the tomb.  “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  Go tell His disciples and Peter.  He is alive…”

Jesus suffered death, but death did not… could not hold Him.  Death was introduced into the world when Adam and Eve first sinned.  And since then life’s end was always death.  But with sinless Jesus and His selfless, loving sacrifice the whole order of things was turned on its head.  Death suddenly gave way to life.  Jesus made a new way.  Jesus is the new way.

Mary Magdalene did not put all these thoughts together at that time, but she knew that hope was rekindled in her heart.  It still fought with the fear and confusion of the strange things she was seeing and hearing, but hope had begun again.  Why Jesus picked Mary as the first to see Him is a mystery.  She was a woman who had suffered much, but who had been touched by the Master’s hand and delivered by His word.  It may have been because she pushed herself past her grief to do what had to be done and she was in a place to see Him.  It probably had to do with the hope that was attempting to rise up in her heart and convince her mind that He really was alive.  I am certain at least part of the reason was because Jesus knew her need and stepped in.  But Mary was the first to see the risen Lord.

As I watch the sky brighten in the east this morning signalling a new day about to begin, I think back to that new day.  Everything changed that day.  Death is no longer the end for those who know Jesus.  The power of sin can is broken as we surrender to the One who died to break sin’s hold over us.  God is real.  God is love.  God cares for us.  And God is a person who can and does relate directly with us if we but take the time to seek Him.

Alleluia, He is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

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